By Yereth Rosen
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Alaska Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott resigned on Tuesday in an unexpected departure that the state's governor, Bill Walker, said stemmed from "inappropriate comments" by his political running mate.
Mallott, 75, the first Alaska Native elected to statewide office, had teamed up with Walker, a former Republican turned independent, to run on a unity ticket four years ago, and the two men were seeking re-election together in November.
A new lieutenant governor, Valerie Nurr'araaluk Davidson, also a Native Alaskan and formerly the state's health and social services commissioner, was sworn in on Tuesday to succeed Mallott, the governor's office said in a statement.
"It is with profound disappointment and sadness that I accepted the resignation of Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott," Walker said in the statement. "Byron recently made inappropriate comments that do not reflect the sterling level of behaviour required in his role as Lieutenant Governor."
Walker said he learned of "the incident" on Monday night, and that Mallott "has taken full responsibility for his actions."
In a resignation letter released shortly after he stepped down, Mallott said his departure was "compelled by inappropriate comments I made that placed a person whom I respect and revere in a position of vulnerability."
Neither the governor nor Mallott explained the nature of the comments that led to Mallott's departure, which came three weeks before the Nov. 6 election.
Davidson was quoted separately as saying: "Respect for women, and the dignity of all Alaskans, is our responsibility. I stand ready to serve as your lieutenant governor."
Walker faces a gubernatorial challenge from Republican Mike Dunleavy and Democrat Mark Begich, a former U.S. senator and Anchorage mayor, in a three-way race that shows Dunleavy, a former state legislator with a clear lead.
(Reporting by Yereth Rosen in Anchorage; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)
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Updated Date: Oct 17, 2018 06:06 AM